While I believe my relationship with the world media was sound as a player – probably because I was never afraid to express my views –
I had no inkling of what was to come following the accident. The London Fleet Street journalists who had a shocking reputation were very good to me. Yes I gave them plenty of stories during my time as a leading player in Europe however it was not uncommon for me to have a drink or a game of cricket with mainstream journos and discuss all things pertaining to the game of golf. Interestingly what was discussed never appeared in print. I trusted them but the same couldn’t be said of the Australian writers. Some of them had the knack of quoting me to give their views greater credibility. This was something I detested as quite often I held a totally opposite view. Sensationalism was alive and well, even back then.
Following my accident, I had three separate stints in hospital, intertwined with rehab. During a break from those tough times my wife, Jackie , took me to the PGA Championships at Concord Golf Club where I hoped to catch up with my contemparies. During that day Bill Pritchard, Head of ABC Sport, approached me to do thirty minutes commentating which ended after an hour and some. I knew Bill from my playing days and I was quite encouraged when he said “I think you’re a natural at it”. Since that day in late 1983 I have worked as a TV Commentator on every network including over 20 years with the Seven Network.
At about the same time (1984) I was asked to write a weekly feature story for the Sunday Sun Herald. It was quite enjoyable expressing my views and opinions as well as covering the Majors – much the same could be said working for the ABC or doing radio – commercial free! At a British Open at St. Andrews, after concluding a stint on the BBC I was battling away with my newly learnt left-handed writing on a story which had to be filed to make a deadline. Three of our most crusty and/or most controversial golf journalists walked by and could see I was getting a little frustrated when Don Lawrence – who gave Jack Nicklaus the ‘handle’ of Golden Bear – declared “don’t stress Jack It will be fish and chip wrapper tomorrow”. He was right, after six hours of television and having to get my head around a feature story as well, it didn’t make sense. I stopped, however in recent times I do a column for Golf Digest when requested, I enjoy it.
Public speaking was something I had to learn the hard way. While I had done many press conferences and television commitments when playing the various tours around the world, facing the throng of Sydney media where I had to speak for forty minutes off my ‘own bat’ on getting out of hospital. The Canberra Press Club was another intimidating experience given I was out of my comfort zone. These days I can comfortably speak for 45 minutes about the places I’ve been, the people I’ve met, humorous and embarrassing moments and the idiosyncrasies of some of the greatest players to stride the fairways.
Golf Television Commentary:
Worked with various TV stations within Australia & Internationally including: BBC, ABC, Ten Network & Nine Network. Exclusive golf commentary for the Seven Network including: presenting & journalism for over 20 years.
– Written media & journalism:
including Golf Digest.
– Public Speaking & Presenting
– Master of Ceremonies